SA minister voices doubts about circumcision as weapon against AIDS

South Africa's health minister questioned international studies that show circumcision is effective in preventing AIDS in men, saying that her government was not yet ready to follow UN advice to adopt what many say is the most promising weapon against a disease that has hit South Africa harder than any other country. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang - who frequently clashes with the international medical establishment - said on the sidelines of a meeting of traditional leaders that there was "not enough information" about the benefits of circumcising men and that South Africa was not willing to run roughshod over some communities here that traditionally frown on circumcision. Her comments Thursday, the latest in a string of positions Tshabalala-Msimang has taken that have earned her sharp criticism from AIDS activists, prompted one AIDS experts to call her "addicted to folly." South Africa has an estimated 5.4 million people living with HIV - the highest in the world. The United Nations says there is compelling evidence circumcision can reduce the risk of contracting the virus by up to 60 percent and offer similar levels of protection to the elusive vaccine.